Have you had pain on the outside (baby finger side or ulnar side) of your hand and wondered whether it was Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
I was contacted by a massage therapist who was having pain on the ulnar side of her hand. She wondered whether it was Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. She contacted me because she was afraid her massage career was going to be over. She was very frustrated. She couldn’t make her hand pain go away and stay away.
Here’s a little background about your body:
Trigger points are areas in muscles (or other soft tissues) that trigger (cause or refer) pain or symptoms elsewhere. When trigger points are pressed into, the symptom or pain will appear where the area of complaint is. Trigger points cause symptoms. (But what causes trigger points? That’s another article.)
A Syndrome, like Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, is a collection of symptoms. Symptoms are pain, numbness, tingling, etc.
I wrote to the massage therapist and explained that pain in the ulnar area of the hand is caused by the following muscles: serratus posterior superior (in the upper back), latissimus dorsi (on the outer side of the upper back), pec major and pec minor (the pectorals are the chest muscles and attach to the upper arm).
Since she uses her arms and hands extensively as a massage therapist, I know that her chest and arm muscles are probably “tight” and need to be released, or relaxed. The muscles in her chest and the front of her arms also need to be stretched in the opposite direction of their usual movement. Another area that often gets tight when doing massage are the “lats”–the latissimus dorsi–below the armpit.
Here is what the massage therapist wrote back to me:
“Wow, thanks a lot. I have tried to find a few spots on myself under the armpit and the pain shot to my scapula, deltoids, pecs, biceps, triceps and wrist. It’s really amazing! So, if you were me would you just make sure to get worked on weekly? Thanks so much. You really do know a lot! You’re a big help. I will tell all of my massage friends about you!”
When I wrote back, I reminded her that prevention is very important, too, so she can continue to do the work she loves. It’s important that she develop a strong back as well as stretch the muscles which get tight while working. Stretching between every client will be a big help. So will figuring out which moves she makes cause her muscles to get tight so she can avoid those moves.
Everything happens for a reason, and when you understand the reason(s) for the pain or other symptoms in your hand, wrist and arm, you can get rid of your carpal tunnel syndrome.